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Fungus the Bogeyman

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When the Wind Blows (1982) confronted the trusting, optimistic Bloggs couple with the horror of nuclear war, and was praised in the British House of Commons for its timeliness and originality. That is what I loved this time around, Fungus did not know why he scares people, why he puts boils on them and why he does this day after day. The Bogeymen that live there revel in every kind of nastiness imaginable - especially their day-job of scaring human beings. The book depicts the mundane details of Bogey life in loving detail, with definitions of Bogey slang and numerous annotations concerning the myths, pets, hobbies, literature, clothing and food of the Bogeys.

When it came out the general public were shocked at the scatological humour, which is now standard in children's literature, but it no longer has that impact.

Combine that rudimentary appeal with a very adult level of punning and an endearing melancholy and you have Fungus.

I mean, it’s a complete classic, although I do prefer Ug, Boy Genius of the Stone Age, for its philosophical musings, although the quotations from Southey, Clare, et al in this book do make me smile. This could be interpreted as a comical, jovial way to show children that different people can live very diverse lives which may help them to become more aware of the world around them. Bogeymen like: silence, tasting books, losing or drawing games, wetness, rotten smells and slowness. Yes, the characters and their world is beautifully drawn, with lots and lots of fascinating written detail for those whose imagination is sufficiently grabbed to enjoy the sheer grottiness of it all; or should that be ‘snottiness’?

But, what makes the book so strange is not just the weird censorship jokes, but the fact that throughout the novel, Fungus is having something of an existential crisis.

As a children’s book today, I would not recommend it: there are many references to British culture in the 70s that simply would not be understood; the vocabulary used is quite advanced (at times fantastical) and thus I would not even be sure at what age group this book should be aimed; and as the book is so dated, it feels sexist and racist by today’s standards. It reads almost like a comic book with incredibly detailed illustrations in individual boxes with speech bubbles or text.

A co-production with Pilot Theatre, the show was directed and adapted by Marcus Romer and designed by Ali Allen. I actually couldn't bear to read past the sixth page or so, once I realized that it was just a way-too-wordy Bizzaro Superman-style reversal of everything in polite society. Of course being a pixie type person myself I firmly believe in the little people that live at the bottom of gardens and in enchanted woods and forests. Initially published in 1977, Fungus the Bogeyman follows one day in the life of the title character, a working class Bogeyman with the mundane job of scaring human beings.

It also reads in the style of a non-fiction guide with and lots of information about 'Bogeys' and their different lifestyle. We learn about Bogey houses, their family structure, what they do for fun, how they live, the essentials of their health and well-being, and more. The Bogeymen that live there revel in every kind of nastiness imaginable – especially their day-job of scaring human beings. Fungus lives an ordinary life, he gets up, gets prepared for work, makes the commute, does his job and wonders what is it all about?Written and illustrated by Raymond Briggs, a much loved children's author, perhaps best known for his Christmas classic, The Snowman.

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